Christmas Stories December 28, 2015

Apple Christmas Ad 2015

Every year during the holiday season Apple products top the wish lists of many consumers and end up being one of the top gifted items when it’s all said and done. Now, Yahoo-run analytics firm Flurry Insights has shared the gift giving trends for this holiday season, again showing that Apple devices were among the most popular items received this year.

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Christmas Stories December 24, 2015

9to5Toys Christmas bailout: last-minute deals on Apple products and email gift cards (in time to get under the tree)

You blew it. It’s Christmas Eve and you didn’t get your friend/colleague/ loved one a present. Don’t worry, the 9to5Toys team has put together some last second options which will get you some great gifts and still save you some money. In fact, if you play your cards right you might still save a lot of money.

Still get delivery If you live in  16 metro areas in the US, Amazon will deliver a million items in about an hour. It is like Pizza, except for Christmas presents. Categories include: Health & Personal Care, Books, Electronics, Home, Beauty, Office Products, Kitchen and Toys so there’s probably a gift for everyone in there. Of course, we’d recommend the Apple at Amazon Store within a Store. 

Brick and Mortar: If you are like me and don’t live in one of these locations, you can always do the cave man option and head to a store. Most are open at least part of the day. Target has a Retina iPad Mini 2 for $194, the lowest price we’ve ever seen and $5 less than Walmart’s previous record low on an Apple tablet. If you are looking for a new Apple TV and Radio Shack still exists in your area, you can pick one up for $120 and it includes an HDMI cable, one of the best deals we’ve seen this year. And Best Buy is still discounting nearly every Apple product by at least $100. If you live in New York (or can trade tax for being a few days late), B&H still has the best deals on Apple Watches

Gift Cards! Your best option at this late hour is usually a gift card, though we’ve found some ways to save even at this late date. Amazon is always the place to go and this year is no exception. The Online retail giant is discounting a bunch of email gift cards for restaurants and apparel retailers by 20% including Steak ‘n Shake, Aerie, Hooters, and others. Just use the specific coupon code from this deal page to save. Example: Get $5 off a $25 Famous Footwear gift card with coupon code SNSHAKE5 at checkout.

You can also save on email gift cards from PayPal’s eBay store. Top picks include a $100 Toys R Us for $90, $50 Skype for $35, $50 Lord & Taylor for $40, $25 iHop for $20, $50 Sephora for $45, and more. PayPal usually sends these gift cards within a few hours. Best Buy will give you a $10 savings code with the purchase of a $150 gift card.

And the fail-safe: Everyone loves to receive Amazon gift cards. Send one instantly via email or Print one out.

For Apple folks, you never go wrong with iTunes gift cards. Get some delivered in minutes from eBay using Paypal or Credit Card in $25, $50 or $100 denominations. Apple will also email you iTunes cards in any denomination.

Christmas Stories December 14, 2015

Apple Music Christmas

While it undoubtedly drives the rest of my family crazy, I sure love Christmas music and don’t mind one bit that it takes over radio stations on November 1st. FM radio is okay in the car and I’ve used Pandora and iHeartRadio the last few years to find a variety of Christmas music, but ads and skip limits are no good when you’ve got access to a streaming music catalog everywhere you go. This year I’m all in with Apple Music and finding it terrific as my own personal Christmas music station.

Apple Music does a pretty good job of serving up a variety of ad-free Christmas music through stations and playlists … if you know where to look. Here are a few tips to set you in the right direction if you want to feel festive and spread the Christmas mood:

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Christmas Stories January 13, 2015

singleoftheweek

There was surprise expressed when Apple quietly dropped its annual 12 Days of Christmas promotion this past year, just one year after it first reached the US. The app provided a free digital gift–which could be a song, app, book, TV show or movie–for each of 12 days, starting on December 26th.

A number of our readers noticed that it has now apparently done the same with the Single of the Week, which has offered a free music track on iTunes every week since 2004. No track was offered last week, and a participant in a support communities thread spotted by Business Insider says he’s been told by an Apple employee that the promotion has been discontinued …  expand full story

Christmas Stories January 7, 2015

Screenshot 2015-01-07 21.59.19

“Ships to Store” indicates store has no units in stock

If you’re trying to buy Apple’s cheapest iPod, the $49 screen-less Shuffle, you may be in for a difficult shopping trip. According to multiple sources, supplies of the iPod Shuffle are dwindling across Apple’s physical retail and online channels. In fact, Apple has warned its retail employees that Shuffle supplies will be short for an unspecified period of time and that customers seeking to buy a Shuffle via a retail store should be directed to Apple’s online store…

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Christmas Stories December 22, 2014

walt-disney-world

Following in the footsteps of the Disney Stores, Walt Disney World will be accepting Apple Pay from 24th December, reports the company.

Initially, most stores, quick service restaurants, bars and ticket sales booths will be included. Any locations that use portable payment terminals, such as table service restaurants, will be added later.

To identify payment locations that accept Apple Pay and contactless payments, look for the EMVCo symbol, which is a series of curved lines, similar to a WiFi signal strength meter on many devices.

Disney was an Apple Pay launch partner, installing upgraded iBeacons and NFC readers in its retail stores prior to the launch of the service, but contactless payment had previously only been available at WDW via the company’s own MagicBands wristbands …  expand full story

Christmas Stories December 15, 2014

main

As a dedicated fan of kitchen gadgets, a Bluetooth scale linked to a companion iPad app that walks you through recipes step-by-step was too much to resist. Besides, it was a chance to bake some cookies and call it work (though I’m not entirely convinced the taxman is going to allow me to deduct the cost of the ingredients).

The scale is very compact – a little under 6.5 inches across with the front lip, and around 5.5 inches wide. There are no visible controls or display, but the lip contains a button and a hidden LED which lights up briefly when the scale connects to the app. Otherwise, it’s entirely featureless …  expand full story

Christmas Stories December 5, 2014

The holidays arrive on iTunes Radio, with ten Holiday radio stations

For those worried that they might not get quite enough Christmas music this month from coffee shops, stores, bars and just about everywhere else in existence, iTunes Radio has you covered. Apple yesterday added a whole collection of new stations to its streaming music service, each of them playing Christmas music and nothing but Christmas music – mirroring the holiday movie section added to iTunes.

The ten (yes, ten) stations range from Classical Holiday to Country Holiday. As ever with iTunes Radio, the stations play ad-free for iTunes Match subscribers, while others get ads (including visual ads) every few tracks after an earlier ad-free day courtesy of Verizon.

If you’re keen on minimizing your exposure to holiday music, however, you can stay out of the stores and do most of your shopping online thanks to the links in our holiday gift guides – with additional gift ideas over on 9to5Toys.

Christmas Stories February 12, 2014

apple-tv-deal

Following our reports in recent months that Apple was looking to introduce a revamped Apple TV set-top box sometime around the month of March, Bloomberg is out with its own report today confirming much of what we’ve already reported. The report claims Apple is currently planning to launch the new Apple TV set-top box as early as April:

Apple Inc. (AAPL) is planning to introduce a new Apple TV set-top box as early as April and is negotiating with Time Warner Cable Inc. and other potential partners to add video content, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

In January we reported that Apple was working testing the new box that could include a revamped operating system and possibly app and game support for sometime in the first half of 2014. We also reported that Apple was testing upgraded hardware that included built-in AirPort Express 802.11ac router functionality and versions that include a built-in TV tuner to control existing cable boxes. Most recently we reported that code in recent builds of iOS 7 point to refreshed hardware, at least internally. Bloomberg today confirmed a couple of the same details including a new interface for navigating content. It also said the hardware will include a faster processor.

Bloomberg adds that a launch of the product is currently planned for Christmas but that might change if Apple isn’t able to nail down deals with content partners in time. Content from Time Warner has been rumored to be arriving soon for quite a while now, but negotiations are still ongoing according to Bloomberg’s report from today.

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Christmas Stories January 22, 2014

ipads

A couple of days after Fortune did its roundup of analyst estimates of iPhone sales, it has now done the same for the iPad, with the average forecast coming out at 25M sales in the final quarter of last year (Apple fiscal Q1) – up 10 percent from the previous year.

iPads were a more challenging market to forecast, observes Fortune‘s Philip Elmer-Dewitt:

The iPad Air didn’t ship until Nov. 1, missing one third of the quarter; the new iPad Mini (with Retina display) showed up 12 days later and was in short supply all the way through Christmas …  expand full story

Christmas Stories December 23, 2013

9to5Toys, Last minute edition: $10 off $50 iTunes or Best Buy in store, Amazon free 1 day shipping

Some last minute Christmas gift ideas from 9to5Toys.com:

Gift Card Mall has the $50 iTunes gift card for $40 shipped. The 20% discount is the lowest we’ve seen. Keep in mind this isn’t guaranteed to make it to the house before Santa.

If you need a guarantee, Best Buy’s Ebay site will give you $10 off $50 or more, via coupon code CLICKLASTMINUTE on “site-to-store” meaning you have to get in your car here.

If you want to stay at home, Amazon will still ship certain gift items to your home for free 1 day meaning you have only a few hours left.

If all else fails, Amazon emailed and iTunes emailed gift cards are always popular. 

Christmas Stories December 16, 2013

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImlmVqH_5HM]

As is tradition, Apple is airing a new holiday commercial this evening, this time highlighting the iPhone 5s, its movie making capabilities, and AirPlay with the Apple TV. The ad is set to the tune of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. As you may recall, last year Apple highlighted the iPad and FaceTime, with an ad set to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. In 2011, Apple featured Siri and the then-new iPhone 4S.

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Christmas Stories December 6, 2013

Apple Store employees getting accessory discounts again for the holidays

Today it was revealed that for the holiday season Google will be giving its employees a Nexus 5 or a Nexus 7. In past years, Apple has not given its retail employees a significant gift for the holiday, though employees have been given hoodies.

The first gift to Apple Retail Employees was $10 off of a $50 iTunes gift card. This isn’t something to brag about considering a lot of stores offer this promotion frequently. Another gift Apple gives its retail employees is the ability to purchase third-party accessories at a steep discount, with new products being added to the selection each week. Apple has done this in past years:

Christmas Stories January 2, 2013

Flurry: Holiday 2012 sees new 1-week record with 50M iOS & Android activations and 1.76B app downloads

Flurry today released its stats for worldwide app downloads during the 2012 holiday season. It recently released some stats for Christmas Day, including a huge 332 percent increase over previous years to 17.4 million new iOS and Android activations and 328 million app downloads. Today it shared some stats for the entire week starting on Christmas and ending New Year’s Day, noting it recorded the highest number of activations and app downloads for any week in history. As highlighted in the images, Flurry estimated 50 million devices activations and an increase of 65 percent to 1.76 billion app downloads:

The final week of the year, between Christmas and New Year’s Day, grew by 65% over the early-December baseline, historically breaking through the largest single week record previously set during the same week of 2011.  While several weeks since late November delivered billion+ week download levels, the holiday week delivered a record-shattering 1.7 billion downloads… Looking forward to 2013, Flurry expects the trend of one-billion-download weeks to become the norm, and that the industry will surpass the two-billion download week during Q4.

Christmas Stories December 31, 2012

From 9to5toys:

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 10.59.14 AM

As a special offer to close out the year, Apple is offering the bestselling albums of 2012 on iTunes for $6.99. The promotion is running from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3 only and includes some pretty nice offerings for you hip music listeners in the crowd:

12 Days of Christmas Day 6:

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Christmas Stories December 27, 2012

holiday app store

As users powered on their new iOS devices and received iTunes gift cards on Christmas day, a strong surge of app downloads obviously followed. According to analytic firm Distimo, App Store downloads increased a whopping 87 percent on Christmas Day, compared to the rest of December 2012. With the increased downloads, revenue consequently rose 70 percent. Interestingly, the iPad and iPad mini seemed to be the most popular iOS gift given, as downloads and revenues rose by 140 percent and 83 percent, respectively.

Distmo also looked at the most downloaded applications from the App Store on Christmas day. They included Google’s standalone YouTube app and the recently released Apple Maps alternative Google Maps at the top. Other top downloads, excluding Apple’s in-house apps like iWork, included: ElfYourself by OfficeMax, Where’s My Holiday?, and Skype for iPad. The numbers that will give us a real look at how iOS device sales were during the Christmas quarter will be during Apple’s January earnings call with investors, where record sales are expected.

Competitor Amazon, who doesn’t like to give hard numbers, detailed some of its shopping statistics for the holiday season. The Seattle-based online retailer said that Christmas day brought the busiest day ever for digital downloads of movies, TV shows, apps, and more. The Angry Bird fans were also busy with purchases, as Angry Birds plush toys would stack up to 285 times the height of the world’s tallest tree in California. Research firm Flurry also detailed that Christmas 2012 saw the highest amount of activated gadgets than any other day in history.

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Christmas Stories December 3, 2012

App & Updates Dec 3

WordPress version 3.3: The WordPress iOS app gets an update today that brings audio feedback with new sound effect options for “refreshing, swiping, and more” accessible from Settings. The app has also been updated with optimizations for iPad mini, support for self-signed certificates, and fixes for over 20 bugs:

★ Sound effects: get audio feedback when refreshing, swiping, and more. You can turn off Sounds easily in Settings. • Works great on the iPad Mini. • Added support for self-signed certificates. • Over 20 bugs and crashes fixed.

Angry Birds Seasons version 3.1.0: Over the weekend Rovio updated its Angry Birds Seasons apps with new content for Winter. Included is 25 winter levels (one each day) and “three secret levels for some special wintry treats.” HD iPad version available here.

It’s a snowy winter night, the northern lights are ablaze, and it seems like peace on earth… until the bad piggies show up! The Angry Birds didn’t realize that they’re walking in a winter wonderham!

Tumblr version 3.2.2: The Tumblr iPhone app gets a few features today include a new blog lookup feature to find blogs by username, and a panorama view when tapping photos:

• New blog lookup feature! Go to your Account screen and tap “Find blogs” to search by username. • New panorama view! Just tap the photo to get a closeup. • Bug fixes, including one that made it difficult for some users to launch the app.

Starbucks 2.5.2:

* iPhone 5 Support * Multiple Bug fixes * Added back sound when stars drop in cup – now an option to turn on or off

Notability version 4.42: A big update goes to the popular note taking, handwriting, and PDF annotation app that brings iOS 6 support, the ability to import .doc, .ppt, and .xls files as PDFs with Google Drive, localizations, and much more: expand full story

Christmas Stories December 27, 2011

Apple saw record-setting sales this holiday season, according to Localytics. So well, that 12.5 times more iOS devices were activated over Christmas than past weekends. For comparison sake: there were 21 times more iPods compared to 14 times more iPhones. The iPods were most likely gifted to younger children who do not yet have a cell phone. At any rate… there were many people enjoying iOS devices on Christmas Day.

Apple is said to have another record setting quarter after a very successful fiscal Q4 for the company. The last earnings report said Apple claimed $28.27 billion in revenue and saw record-setting Mac and iPhone sales. The holiday quarter is expected to be even better.

Apple is set to have its best year ever in its App Store with approximately 10 billion downloads in 2011, along with a record-setting holiday season. That estimate doubles collective downloads from the three years prior, according to research firm Flurry. The report noted the Android Market hit 10 billion cumulative downloads in December, up from 3 billion total downloads in May 2011.

Flurry also backs up Localytics claim and said Christmas Day 2011s activations crushed Christmas Day 2010s by almost 2.5 times. This year saw 6.8 million iOS and Android device activations, and last year saw 2.8 million device activations. That’s a 140 percent growth. We are looking forward to hearing what Apple has to say in late January.

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Christmas Stories December 18, 2011

As we close out the year and approach Christmas, here is a quick review of some stellar items we have reviewed over the past few months.

Audyssey Lower East Side Speakers.  Truth be told, we were interested in the Airplay-enabled Lower East Side Audio Dock Air that seems to have been struck by production delays.  In the meantime, we are in love with the standalone LES powered speakers (right).  Very simple I/Os and almost perfect desktop-level sound makes these incredibly good for the small room or workspace.  Sure, they will fill up a medium sized room, but you will find much larger/expensive setups for that.  $199 Amazon. Bonus: If you want Airplay functionality, throw in a $95 Apple TV and an Optical cable.

Doxie Go Wireless scanner: The magic is putting an Eye-Fi card in the SD card slot that allows automatic Evernote/flickr Cloud synchronizing.  I use this at the front of my house without a computer where mail comes in.  Important stuff is run through the scanner and sent to the Cloud before it hits recycling.  Standalone Cloud scanners are the future.  It also does traditional Desktop scanning via USB. ($150-200 at Amazon.)

Atari Arcade. This little plastic iPad “dock” (does not work with iPhone 4) adds a joystick to the 100 Atari applications for $15 app (at present no other games support this – but more are planned). The quality is good and the gaming is certainly nostalgic.  It was fun to teach my kid the games I played when I was his age (which is probably why this thing is such a hit).  It would have been much better with a pass thru charger and landscape options.  Still, fun. ($59.99 Amazon) iCade is a more expensive option.

iHelicopter.net sent us a review unit after we showed their latest preview of their missile-shooting iHelocopter. After a few weeks of playing with this iOS device controlled (through an earphone dongle) helicopter, I can say it works as expected.  I have only used it inside but it has survived a lot of hard “landings” as well as direct hits on the ceiling and walls. The reason this one is so notable is that it shoots missiles through a spring-loaded system.  Yes, this works and with the gyroscope going, it is easy to hit your target.  ($69 shipped free globally.)

Logitech Tablet speaker.  Initially we were down on this little gadget because, let us face it, it is not a “looker”.  However, after playing with our review unit for a number of weeks, it has come in handy on a number of occasions and it produces impressive sound considering its size and portability. It clips to your iPad, is charged via USB and plugs into the headphone jack. The rechargeable batteries last for 8 hours. (Amazon – as low as $22)

Western Digital TV Live. Sure Apple TV does 90% of what this thing does, but if you want stuff like Hulu Plus, Spotify, Facebook or compatibility with DLNA and non- iOS compatible videos, this little $90 1080P TV works great. It also has a full sized USB port for hooking directly into USB Sticks, wireless keyboards, and hard drives.  ($89.99 – Amazon.) Also, consider Roku devices that start at $45.

Christmas Stories January 4, 2011

Price conscious UK consumers are already grappling with declining public services and public sector jobs and a huge climb in VAT — perhaps that’s why Orange sold just 1,000 iPads in the first week the products went on sale via the carrier in the UK.

As has been widely-reported, Orange is one of the first UK networks to offer the 3G/Wi-Fi iPad at a subsidized price in the UK to customers signing-up for a 24-month service contract. The subsidy means you can get an iPad for just £199, so long as consumers agree to a £25/month contract. expand full story

Christmas Stories December 29, 2010

Apple’s iOS has won a big thumbs-up from the Angry Birds themselves, who say that when it comes to mobile devices, Apple’s going to excel against the rest.

“Apple will be the number one platform for a long time from a developer perspective, they have gotten so many things right,” said Peter Vesterbacka, Angry Birds development lead. expand full story

Christmas Stories December 27, 2010

Facebook welcomed an additional million iPhone owners on Christmas (Facebook for iPhone includes all iOS devices?).  In fact Apple had a pretty impressive December all together. via DF.

Christmas Stories December 23, 2010

From the Toys section:

Amazon has a small special Christmas gift for shoppers today: $2 in free music.  Simply head here, click the Button and enter the Code “GIVEMP3S”. $2 will be automatically applied to your account.  Use it to buy holiday music or send a small last minute gift to someone?  MP3 Gift ideas here.

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Christmas Stories December 21, 2010

We all know this is set to be an iOS Christmas — now it is interesting to discover that Apple’s iPad is so popular there’s an increasing wave of two or more iPad households, according to reputable research from YouGov.

Researchers found nearly a fifth (17%) of Apple iPad owners state that there is more than one tablet in their household, either owned by themselves or another family member. expand full story

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